CJR Survey Reveals the Obvious: Online Journalism Is a Hoary, Chaotic Mess

CJR03012010.pngToday, the Columbia Journalism Review released a survey on the quality and standards for magazines’ online segments. The results are discouraging if not entirely surprising.

Fifty-nine percent of journalists surveyed said that their publications devoted far fewer resources to online copy editing than to print copy editing, and 11% said that there was no copy desk at all at their online divisions.

What’s worse, more than half (54%) of respondents said that Web editors would correct errors on Web-based stories without a written acknowledgment that the story had been corrected (also known as the “Stealth Republish”/”Quiet Correction”).

The CJR study attributes this inattention to online quality to the Internet’s lightning fast environment, where being first on a story is often much more important than spelling things right — or, more alarmingly, getting the facts straight.

Fact-checking takes a back seat among online editors. Only 40% of Web editors conduct rigorous fact-checking.

More highlights from the survey after the jump.


It’s by far most common for journalists to split their time between print and online work; 25% of respondents said they only worked in the print segment of their magazines, 5% said they only worked online, and 61% said they did both.

The Web and Web-based platforms form an important part of most magazine businesses; 64% of magazines have blogs on their Web sites. Despite this, only 26% of staffers surveyed were hired with Web experience. Fifty-three percent said they learned on the job, 11% said they didn’t have Web experience when they were hired and never learned on the job, and 10% said they weren’t sure where they stood when it came to Web experience.

For a full .pdf version of the report, click here.